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Pain Med. 2008 Nov;9(8):1107-17. doi: 10.1111/j.1526-4637.2007.00401.x. Epub 2008 Feb 5.

Psychological comorbidities predicting prescription opioid abuse among patients in chronic pain presenting to the emergency department.

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Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine, and VA Northern California Health Care System, University of California, Davis, CA, USA.



We attempted to identify psychological comorbidities that are associated with the propensity for prescription opioid abuse.


Patients presenting to an emergency department seeking opioid refills for chronic pain were evaluated with five validated self-report instruments and structured clinical interviews. The potential for prescription opioid abuse was modeled with multiple regression analysis using depression, anxiety disorders, personality disorder, and addiction as independent variables.


Of the 113 patients studied, 91 (81%) showed a propensity for prescription opioid abuse as determined by scores on the Screener and Opioid Assessment for Patients with Pain instrument. Depression, anxiety, and a history of substance were common and panic attacks, posttraumatic stress disorder, and personality disorders were also found, albeit less frequently. Panic attacks, trait anxiety, and the presence of a personality disorder accounted for 38% of the variance in the potential for prescription opioid abuse.


Patients in chronic pain should be assessed for psychological and addiction disorders because they are at increased risk for abusing opioids. They should also be referred for psychosocial treatment as part of their care, where appropriate.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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